Business as Mission: What Do We Mean by Success?

by Mats Tunehag

Most businesses are local, and daily problem solving often comes to the forefront. Understandably so. But from time to time, we need to review our mission, and remind ourselves about our greater vision.

BAM is about holistic transformation of people, businesses, industries and nations. This implies several things. We need to:

1. Have a macro perspective,

2. Take a long-term view,

3. Stay mission true, and

4. Employ intentional succession planning.

Let me briefly unpack these four.

1. Macro Perspective

We thank God for the exponential growth of the global BAM movement. We could not talk about a global movement 25 years ago, today we can. There are tens of thousands of BAM businesses in the SME sector and beyond. There is a growing ecosystem of incubators, training programs, investment groups, websites and YouTube channels – in over 20 languages. There are churches and denominations involved, most of the biggest and oldest evangelical mission agencies in the world engage in BAM, and BAM is also embraced by other Christian traditions. There are dozens of PhD’s on BAM and countless Master theses, creating intellectual capital and sharing best practices. I could go on and on. God is at work.

But if we are to see a macro transformation take place, we need to build a critical mass of BAM initiatives, to reach a tipping point. To that end the various BAM networks have a critical role to play.

BAM Global has identified this as an important goal, “to build on this growth and better ‘connect the dots’ of BAM to enable greater impact. …To create momentum for macro transformation we need to scale up, multiply and reach a critical mass of business as mission initiatives in cities, nations and industries.”

2. Long-term view

Transformation takes time, especially macro transformation. We know that from studying movements of societal transformation, like the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement. We in the BAM movement are to some extent about setting the stage for generations to come. Read BAM & the Olive Tree , and Deeply Rooted for the Future, to learn more.

3. Stay mission true – avoid mission drift

Nobody ever plans for mission drift, but it happens unless you have systems and processes in place to reinforce the mission and transmit the values – day by day, and from generation to generation.

We know from research and numerous case studies that people and money are two main causes to mission drift. [1] Wrong people (not necessarily bad) come into management or the board and take the organization in a different direction. Money (grants, investments) can also influence the mission of a university, NGO and business.

A risk for mission drift in the BAM movement is to lose focus on the Great Commission aspect of our mission: to make Christ known among all peoples as we do business.

Mission drift doesn’t necessarily mean going bad, but certainly going off the original track. To stay mission true, we need to constantly monitor everything we do and say in the global BAM movement. This applies to the business ecosystem, to churches and mission agencies, as well as to teaching and training on all levels. A litmus test is: is the Great Commission still underpinning what we do, and are the four bottom-lines still pursued in planning, operations and evaluation, as well as in investing?

4. Succession planning

To have a holistic macro impact, we need to create critical mass of BAM initiatives, assume a long-term view, stay mission true, and do intentional succession planning. It cannot be considered success to have a number of disconnected BAM dots which stay mission true for only a short season.

Succession planning is difficult in general – for churches, organizations and businesses. A common mistake is to start too late. But succession planning is even more difficult and complex when you deal with value-based businesses like BAM. We may also use the term ‘continuity planning’, since we want the values and the holistic impact to continue year after year, from generation to generation.

We should learn from the Jewish people and their continuity and succession planning. The transfer of values, from generation to generation, is a profound factor in the uniqueness of Abraham, the establishment of the Covenant and the impact and longevity of the Jewish people. [2]

A BAM business may survive and even thrive financially as a second generation business, but what if the BAM values are lost? Would we consider that success?

It is a challenge for any business and movement in general to move from first to second generation. But for BAM in particular we need to ensure that the BAM vision, mission and values are transferred and continuously embedded in our various BAM initiatives. This will not happen by default, it takes intentional and professional efforts, and prayer.

Mats Tunehag is a senior global ambassador for BAM and has worked in over half the countries of the world. He is the chairman of BAM Global and contributes to Visit for BAM resources in 23 languages.




[1] See ‘Mission Drift’, by Peter Greer & Chris Horst

[2] “For I have known him, because he will command his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord. (Genesis 18:19) Abram is not the only individual in the ancient world to know of a Creator, and of the ethical implications of this great truth. But he is the first to have a dream of founding a family that will transmit this monotheistic principle from generation to generation. Abram is the first to truly envision not only bringing children into this world, but teaching them, and raising them to follow his path; he sought children who would perpetuate not only his body but also his beliefs.” To Choose the Jews: Understanding the Election of Abraham, by Rabbi Meir Soloveischik, 2021.